Monday, June 3, 2013

Get An Education

I love books.  I have many of them.  I particularly love books on film.  There are many I would recommend for any actor, I may even share more of them down the road.  But one I really enjoy in particular, mostly because I'm a nerd, but also because it's hugely helpful if you're going to be on a legitimate film set is Strike the Baby and Kill the Blonde by camera operating veteran Dave KnoxNo, I wasn't paid to plug this book.  I happened to find it one day as I was wandering through Samuel French Bookstore -- also known as the ultimate source for absolutely anything printed on the entertainment industry.  Also also known as a black hole that I am known to disappear into for hours, only to return with an armload of bound literature on anything and everything Hollywood.  If you want to work on big-time sets with experienced crews, there is some lingo you'll need to know.  So when the DP looks at you and says, "We're going to shoot this dirty," you'll know what the heck he's talking about... and not worry that you accidentally signed on to the wrong kind of movie.  (It's an OTS, or over-the-shoulder, close up where the shot is partially obscured by your scene partner).  Other terms/phrases you will definitely need to know (and were actually said to me while shooting my last movie):  
  • Eyeline (as in, "Where's my eyeline for this shot?") -- The spot, which may or may not be an actual face, to which you're looking at while you're performing.  Sometimes it's a piece of pink tape next to the camera lens.  Okay... now flirt with the pink tape...
  • Pancake/Apple box  ("Anony, can you please hop up on that apple box?") -- Wooden boxes of varying sizes used to do anything from raise a piece of set furniture, or give a somewhat short Anony a boost so you can see her behind the counter.
  • Back to one ("Okay everyone, we're going again.  Back to one.") -- After a take or rehearsal, the 1st AD shouts this out to direct everyone back to the first position of the scene to begin another take.
  • Last looks ("Can we get last looks on Anony, please.") -- Everything is set and we're ready to roll, but we need to fly hair and makeup in for one... well... last look for touchups before we shoot this sucker.  
  • Cheat ("Anony, can you please cheat a half step to camera right.") -- Looooots of cheating happens on set.  You "cheat left", "cheat closer", "cheat your eyeline up."  Essentially, it's moving your body/eyeline/prop/whatever slightly so it fits in the frame and appears to match the other shot, though it doesn't actually in the real room.  If only the audience knew all the cheating that goes on in Hollywood...
There's so much more, and I'm a total sucker for all the cool set lingo (even the stuff I don't really need to know).  Pick up a copy of the book and thank me in your Oscar speech.

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